23 June, 2010

Wine Word Wednesday: Tartrates.

Ever open a bottle of white wine and see white crystals on the bottom of the cork? Or for that matter have you ever seen white stuff in the bottom of your glass of white wine? You might think they look like sugar or perhaps a bit of glass. Fear not, your wine is not bad, it's just a tartrate.

Tartrates are cystalline deposits that separate from the wine during fermentation and aging. It orginates as part of tartaric acid, the most important acid found in wine. Without it and other acids, wine would be incredibly bland. Acid also acts like a preservative, allowing both reds and whites to age. As the wine gets older, the acids soften.

So next time you see the white crystals in your wine, impress your friends by dismissing them as just part of the wine making process.



  1. Good to know. Looking forward to reading more and learning about wine. Love me some vino!

  2. Interesting, so is a wine with tartrates better than one without? Or are they just the same?

  3. Neither is better, they're just the same.

  4. You have no idea how excited I was the first time I cold stabilized a batch of homemade wine before bottling and there were the tartrate crystals settled to the bottom of the glass tank. Catch a few in bottles here and there.

    Technically wines that have had their tartrate crystals precipitate should have lower volatile acidity which can improve mouthfeel and the perception of the wine. The change might be subtle enough for it not to be a big difference.


  5. The tartrates are also used to make a by product that only comes from grapes.....cream of tartar.